I’ve written only briefly about my 14 year old son, CT (Cool Teen) being Autistic. I also have written briefly about homeschooling him. Homeschooling any child can be a challenge, but an autistic child means you must be resourceful. I have a pretty funny story to tell about homeschooling CT.
Last year, at the beginning of CT’s 7th Grade year, he read excerpts in his Literature book from the novels, “The Call of the Wild,” “White Fang,” and “Flowers for Algernon.” When CT gets it in his mind he wants to do something, it can be hard to persuade him to do something else. Well CT decided he wanted to read all three novels. Let’s forget the money spent on all his school books, including the reading books we have him read each year. He wanted to read them now!
So, I made him a deal. I felt the books were important enough that I wanted to make sure he read them in a classroom setting. That way, if he had any questions, they could be discussed. CT is very literal so sometimes, figurative literature concepts confuse him. While he reads a lot of books (like the Pendragon series), in his free time, I had already planned to allow him to read two of the three books in 8th Grade, anyway, so I switched some books around on the list and added the third.
The 7th Grade year was long during reading class. The first book (okay, all the books) he read, he didn’t want to read. Our conversation went something like this:
CT: “Anne of Green Gables?” I don’t want to read this! I want to read “Flowers for Algernon!”
Me: You can’t this year. Remember? You’re scheduled to read them in 8th Grade.
CT: But I want to read “The Call of the Wild” or “White Fang” first!
Me: I know. I already bought, “Anne of Green Gables” for this year. Remember? You helped your mother and I make the list of books.
CT: I know, but I want to change it.
Me: Okay, well we can’t today. Read this and I’ll see what we can do.
So, CT read “Anne of Green Gables,” and really ended up liking it. He now has it as a part of his book collection. The next few books, the same thing happened.
CT: Where’s “Flowers for Algernon?” I want to read “Flowers for Algernon!” Don’t you know I read an excerpt of it and I really liked it?
Me: Yes, CT. I remember. In fact, I made “Flowers for Algernon” the first book you’ll read in 8th Grade. Today we have to read “A Wrinkle in Time.”
CT: I don’t want to read that! You could have at least got me “White Fang.”
Me: Well try this first. I think you’ll like it.
So, CT read “A Wrinkle in Time” and he really liked it. He liked it so much he requested the sequel books as a part of his summer reading program. It took no prodding to get him to read those books!
So, then the next book he read was of historical importance and connected to the chapter he was studying in his Social Studies/History class.
CT: Why do I have to read “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl?” Don’t you know it’s time to read “Flowers for Algernon?”
Ashtyn: This is my very favorite book, CT. Won’t you read it for me?
CT: No. I want to read the books I read excerpts from. C’mon! Get me those books!
Ashtyn: We will. It’s almost the end of the school year now. You’ll get to read all three stories next year.
CT: I want to read them now!
CT read Anne Frank’s diary and he thought it was a good story, although he did struggle with some of the concepts in the book.
That brings us to his 8th Grade year. He spent the WHOLE summer talking about how he wanted to read “Flowers for Algernon”, so I thought it’d be easy to get him to read the book come September.
That brings me to “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang.” CT is supposed to begin homeschool tomorrow. Due to some issues with not wanting to listen or find himself something to occupy his time, we decided to start some of his schoolwork this weekend. I thought giving him “The Call of the Wild” to read would be a fun way to begin the new year. He’d only been asking to read it for an entire year.
Well, yesterday the conversation went something like this.
Ashtyn: Come on CT. Time to start school. You need to read “The Call of the Wild” pg. 1-43.
CT: Oh. I don’t want to read that.
Ashtyn: Why not?
CT: Because I don’t want to.
Me: Oh my God. You’ve been BEGGING to read this book since last year.
CT: No, I haven’t.
Me: You haven’t?
Ashtyn: Yes, you have!
CT: I don’t remember this. Can you prove this?
Me: Arrrrrrrggggghhhhh. (Perhaps there was some swearing in here, or perhaps not. I’m not admitting to anything!)
The moral of the story? If your autistic teen says they want to read something, consider letting them read it that year. Otherwise, don’t take them at their word, because they’re bound to change their mind once you get the book in their hands!
We have had quite a chuckle about the irony of all of this!